Updated August 18, 2012

June 2012

Way way back in time....

This is "Pasta", officially known in the AKC as Wingmasters Pasta and Jazz. She was my pet and companion for over 13 years, traveling with me to hundreds of horse shows and other fun events. She passed away in June, 2011 from old age (amazing that she lived as long as she did with having such massive seizures her entire life!). Suddenly, I was dogless. Dogless for now, but I knew it wouldn't stay that way.

I started doing research on what the best breed of dog would be. It's not that I didn't love Pasta, but she was a German Shorthaired Pointer and was as hyper and inattentive as they come - once she caught a scent she would be gone in a split second and there was no getting her back! I was determined to seek out a different breed - one that was more people-oriented and not hunting-oriented. One that was fairly easy to train, very little guarding instinct, short-haired, and a good size (so I could go jogging with it and not look foolish!). Well, my research (taking those dog breed selector quizzes was a lot of fun!) kept bumping me back to the hunting breeds. I fell in love with some videos of Weimaraners, and the decision was made.

Next task was finding a breeder. I decided to be smart this time and seek out a show breeder. As a breeder of show horses, I felt that someone breeding for the show ring would be more apt to breed healthy, good-minded dogs. I found my breeder, put a deposit on a future puppy, and started buying dog toys. Lots. Of. Dog. Toys.

My future companion was born on March 7, 2012. I visited the litter in April, and on May 25th, 2012 "Pretzel" came home. Official name: Poet N Arokats Pretzels For Breakfast. Yes, I named the last half of his name. Yes, I eat pretzels for breakfast (that is your cue to exclaim, "Pretzels for breakfast????!!??").

So, what's the dealio?

OK, I know nothing about dog training. Nada. Zilch. I did a half-butted job of training Pasta - she could sit, stay, and roll over. Fairly useless tricks, I suppose. What she couldn't do was walk nicely on a leash, stay by my side, focus her brain on anything other than the next scent. So, I decided to make a list of priorities I wanted to teach Pretzel:

In the months waiting for baby Pretzel to become old enough to leave his mother, I read many books and did a lot of research. Cesar Millan (way too militant for me), Brian Kilcommons (much more realistic), and A. Meredith John (she discusses training to show, which is what I am going to attempt to do eventually!), all wrote interesting books with differing ideas as to how to train for specific behaviors. I'll take parts and pieces of each and try to put together a method that I can live with and be successful. Yeah, good luck with that! Not much of what I learned training horses can carry over to dog training. They are just too different. I welcome the challenge, this is going to be fun!

Litter pics!

Click here to view Pretzel's pedigree

Friday, May 25, 2012 - Day One

My friend and I drove 2 1/2 hours to a town outside of Cincinnati to pick up Pretzel. She drove home while I held him in my lap. Amazingly, he slept the whole way home! When I got home, we played for a while in the backyard, and various neighbors came over to meet him. The first time crating him was LOUD! He whined, yelped, barked, and carried on for almost an hour. Finally he settled down and went to sleep. Around midnight, I got him up and took him outside where he peed successfully (yay!), and then went back in the crate. He whined and yelped for about 15 minutes, then fell asleep...and slept the entire night through with no accidents!

some pictures of our "firsts"

Our first hug on the lazyboy...one of many!

The first meal!

First playful moment in the backyard

First moments in the crate

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I got up early - around 6am. Pretzel was just sitting quietly in his crate. I took him outside and we had another round of successful urination (you will discover that I am obsessed with potty training!). we played inside and outside all morning, then in the early afternoon he got introduced to the dog kennel. It's not just any old dog kennel - it as a 2-room dog house (fully insulated, plus a roof over the entire kennel. My cat Milkshake and my stepdaughter's cat Cappuccino both live there, so Pretzel got introduced to cats for the first time. Milkshake is deaf and fearless, which makes a good cat to train puppies. Pretzel stood there and barked like crazy at Milkshake, but she just sat there staring at him not hearing a thing. Eventually he settled down.

This evening was Pretzel's first introduction to the horses. He was terrified! I am OK with that, because a scared dog will be much more respectful of the horses and keep his distance, which is important. Later at night, he went in his crate and only whined for about 5 minutes. Progress!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

We had another successful night with no interruptions overnight and no accidents in the crate. This is a lot easier than I thought! Today was graduation at the school I teach at (yes, I teach humans, horses, and now dogs! What a vocation LOL!), so it was the first afternoon Pretzel would spend without me. I left him in his crate, and had Kevin take him out in mid-afternoon to go potty outside and play for a bit. He put him back in his crate after they were done since the temperatures soared to 96 degrees and it was way too hot outside for anyone. When I came home, we played a lot in the yard, and I waited until late evening to head to the barn to work the horses. Here was my first big mistake...I didn't feed Pretzel until after we got home from the barn around 11pm. I took him outside about 2 hours alter, he did his business, and all was well...so I thought....

I was woken up around 3:30 by some panicked barking. I headed downstairs, and found that Pretzel had filled his crate with poop and was really upset about it. Feeding that late was a BIG mistake! I opened the crate to clean it, and Pretzel immediately ran to the carpet and left me another present. Ugh. So at 3:30am I was outside hosing off the crate, blanket, and dog toys, and scrubbing the carpet. Note to self: Don't feed so late in the evening!!!.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pretzel is getting much more used to the horses. He is still respectful, but is not barking in a panic anymore. I have been working on walking on a lead, and actually he is getting the hang of it very well. I got some great tips from the Brian Kilcommons book, and they worked. He already leads better than Pasta ever did! That's good, because I want to be a better dog trainer this time around, for sure. Pretzel went all over the place with me today - to the horse barn, to my friend's horse barn, to the gas station, it was fun. He is such a good traveler. I was smart this evening and fed him at 6pm. We had an accident-free night...Whew!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pretzel had umbilical hernia surgery on May 22, and he has been scratching his stitches a lot. today I noticed they were very red and inflamed. Time to get him in to the vet to take a look at them. Umbilical hernias are serious in horses, but from what everyone tells me they are no big deal in dogs. You know me...I worry and obsess about everything, so I will call my vet and make an appointment just to be sure.

Tonight we attended a meeting of the Lima Kennel Club. It wasn't at all like what I expected! The good thing is they have handler classes on Wednesday evenings so we will attend our first one next week and become educated on dog show handling. Should be fun, right?????

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pretzel was a saint at the vet's today, everyone was super impressed with how quiet and well-behaved he is. I was given some antibiotic pills for his infection, some wormer (dogs are way easier to worm than horses, I learned!!!), and some ear cleaning stuff. All typical puppy things. On the way home we stopped at our local dog training center and signed up for puppy kindergarten class, starting at the end of June. I can't wait!

Friday, June 1, 2012

I have been spending SO much time with Pretzel. This is a good thing, and also a bad thing. I don't want him developing separation anxiety every time I leave the room. Here is a great article about this very topic: Alone Training. When I rode at the barn today I tied Pretzel up to the stall gate where he could easily see me in the arena as I rode, but was safely out of the way. He whined and whined and yelped and carried on (I have to admit his whining breaks my heart!). As much as I hated to do it, I let him stay there and cry while I rode and ignored him. Ugh. Why is it a crying baby doesn't bother me at all, but a whining puppy makes me want to cry? I think I am just twisted that way! Oh well, this is all part of training and making him into a confident adult dog who can handle being alone. I just hope I survive!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We've settled into a decent nightly routine. Pretzel spends the late evening usually laying at my feet obsessively chewing on one of his soft toys, we go out for one last bathroom break, and then he retires to his crate for the night. I usually wake up on my own around 3:30, we go out for a potty break outside, and then we are good until morning. I wonder how long it will be until I can trust him the entire night? Hopefully this can happen by the time school starts in late August!

Today Pretzel got his stitches out, he received his 12 week vaccines, and we got some medicine for his ear infection that doesn't seem to be clearing up. He scratches at his ears constantly. On the bright side, he has completely accepted the horses now. It drives him nuts when I am riding and he is tied up...heaven forbid he isn't RIGHT at my side constantly! This is something he will have to learn. until then...the whining and barking is pretty annoying. Oh well, no one said puppy-raising was easy!

Tomorrow is our first handler class with the Lima Kennel Club. I hope this is a good experience for us. I have mixed feelings.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The handler class was a blast! We were complete and utter failures though, but that was to be expected. Mistake number one - I should have never taught Pretzel to sit for a treat. now I have to un-teach him as all he wanted to do was sit down when I used a treat as "bait" to get him to "stack" (a dog show term for setting up like you would a horse in showmanship or halter). Oops...amazing how in a week and a half I can already screw up our training! I learned a ton at this class - the instructors were really patient with me and my millions and zillions of questions. I learned how to hold the bait and set his feet up, how to do the down and back pattern, and a few other little show protocol thingys that I am sure I will forget as there is so much to remember. We will go to another class next Wednesday, and then head to Troy to watch a show on Friday. Pretzel will get to see his siblings again as they will be there!

June 10, 2012

I took Pretzel to Schoonover Lake (the term "Lake" being a rather big stretch, in my opinion)to introduce him to the water. Due to the drought and the nasty neighborhood that this lake is in, the water was pretty dirty - green, and a bit trashy. In order to entice him to try the water out, I had to take my shoes off and wade into the water. my feet may never recover...ick. Pretzel did get into the water briefly and swam a few strides, but got right out and then didn't seem to want to go back in, so I didn't force the issue.

"I think I am supposed to do something about these ducks, but I am not sure what!"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pretzel and I headed to Troy to watch the dog show. It was very interesting! I am still completely confused, it would have helped to be sitting with someone who could explain what I was watching. I also was confused as to what the judges were looking for. It's not quite like horses...it doesn't seem as clear cut. Or maybe it is, but I just don't have the knowledge to figure it out yet.

Pretzel's breeder brought his three littermates to the show for experience, so Pretzel was reunited with his brother and sisters. It was fun watching them play (and can I admit that I think Pretzel is the nicest???).

Pretzel chillin' out while watching the show

Playing with his littermates!

June 18, 2012

The handler classes are a bit frustrating for us. Standing still is not one of Pretzel's specialties, and he is so distracted by the other dogs and wants to play play play! It is frustrating for me because I still am clueless as to what I am doing, and everyone else knows the basics. I feel like I have been thrown into an algebra class without ever learning my multiplication tables. I hate feeling like that. I ask a ton of dumb questions but the answers seem to be more for someone who actually has a clue about dog showing, which I do NOT. I've read some books, watched closely at the show in Troy, but I still am having a hard time figuring out how to do things, where to go, etc. I know this isn't rocket science...heck, it doesn't even come close to the complicated-ness of showing horse showmanship, but still...I hate feeling so dumb.

Oh well, irregardless, Pretzel and I are having a grand time together. I love having such a playful dog, he just can't get enough of his toys! I have been taking him everywhere with me, he even went to one of our band booster meetings. Every day we head out to the barn. He is getting used to the horses and is a lot more comfortable around them. I love the fact that he is such a good traveler in my truck. I have been driving to various parks and taking him for walks in the evenings.

Pretzel's "What the HECK???" look!

It's play time!

All that playing is exhausting! Pretzel ends every evening wiped out on the couch or the Lazyboy (of he can steal it from me first!)

Later in June...

Pretzel accompanies me to work as I get things ready for band camp, and finds a new toy - a drum stick! I brought him with me to percussion practice one day, just to see how he would take all the students and noise. He loved the students, of course! He reveled in all that attention. I found he has a talent for picking up drumsticks that get dropped. The trick will be teaching him to return the stick to it's proper owner! He wasn't at all bothered by the noise of the drums. I was surprised - I thought the loud banging would startle or bother him, but he didn't mind it at all.

I love this picture of Pretzel and Tango checking each other out. My two horses are pretty comfortable with Pretzel running around, but Tango is a little too interested and tends to want to chase him when he runs. Corky is much more laid back. She pretty much ignores the grey dog running around the arena. I am happily surprised at this, because Corky is the one that got attacked several years ago by a vicious possum (yes, there are a few vicious ones around!) and has been leery of small animals ever since. I think she senses that Pretzel belongs to me and therefore is safe.

We stated puppy kindergarten class this month. It has been an eye-opening experience! I am learning a lot, and am happy that a lot of what I have been doing in regards to basic obedience has been somewhat on the right track. in our class, Pretzel is the only "big" dog, the others are little yappy small dogs. Ye gads some of these little dogs are unfriendly and neurotic. It makes me appreciate my pup's loving and fun personality all the more.

One of the most valuable things I learned on day one was the "settle" command. By making him lay down and putting a hand on his muzzle and telling him to settle, it takes control of his energy level when he starts getting wound up and out of control, and gives us time to breathe and regroup. Pretzel can sometimes get overly excited, and then it snowballs out of control rather quickly. We have been doing a lot of leading (heeling) which has been improving. The BEST part of puppy kindergarten is when they had us try out the agility obstacles. Pretzel LOVED it, he had a huge goofy grin on his face. He was fearless with everything except the tunnel...that took a little coaxing. I definitely see that in our future.

Pretzel's various sleep modes

Poor puppy is so tired he fell asleep with his toy in his mouth!

Pretzel and Kevin napping on the couch together.

June 28, 2012 - Lima Kennel Club Dog Show

I was talked into trying out a little dog showing - a puppy match (unsanctioned) at the LKC Dog Show. We practiced hard, signed up, but unfortunately a huge storm rolled in right at show time and almost destroyed the entire show grounds. Our show debut would have to be postponed.

The storm doesn't seem to bother the puppies! Pretzel and his new friend "Sugar" roll around and play together. I love Pretzel's mad look in his eyes, he has such a crazy expression!

Pretzel and I sit in the grass after the storm and watch the workers attempt to remove a tree that smashed down on my friend's camper. Crazy!

July 2012

July 6, 2012

I discovered Pretzel has a love for jumping. I know he is too young to ask to go over jumps, but he decided today to jump them on his own just for fun! I grabbed my camera and took a few shots, it was hilarious! You could tell by his expression that he was loving it. He popped back and forth over the jump like a jackrabbit. A few times as we were playing fetch, he would get the puffy ball and run to the pole to jump over it, even if it wasn't on the way back to me.

You gotta just LOVE the expression on his face!

Working on getting his teeth in the volleyball

He managed to let out enough air in the ball to get his mouth on it to carry

Break time!

Begging me to keep playing!

July 9, 2012

Stacking practice! Here we are practicing our stacking for the shows. After 30 minutes and a thousand photos, we managed to get one that was somewhat decent. I can see his front legs are a bit too far forward. When I posted this online, I got a lot of comments about how his feet are "down", and a zillion recommendations of supplements to give him in order to get him more "up" on his feet. My head is swimming, because everyone is giving conflicting advice. Who do you trust or believe? I still don't know, but I guess I will trust mother nature in getting him to strengthen and mature on his own.

Mid-July, 2012

Well, handler classes have been cancelled all month due to the heat, so we are plugging away on our own. Some days he has the patience to stand still, other days it is completely hopeless. I am not letting myself stress about it - he is a baby, and in reality this is just for fun and not too serious (but you know me, the ultimate perfectionist. If I do something I want to do it WELL).

I am now trusting pretzel more and more off-leash. At the barn, he comes into the indoor arena with us and trots alongside Corky as I ride. Corky doesn't seem to mind her little grey shadow, and I LOVE the company! It's a great way for everyone to get their exercise. So far he is respecting Corky's space. I hope it stays that way.

I spent 5 days away from home at band camp. Luckily I found an awesome puppy-sitter that was able to take Pretzel in for those 5 days and care for him. He had a huge fenced-in pasture to run around in, and he also got to play with a Lab puppy that was staying there at the same time. They had a blast together! It was SO hard leaving him that Monday morning, and I resisted the urge to call every day checking up on him. He definitely was glad to see me on Friday, and wow was he tired from playing! We got home that afternoon and we both zonked out on the couch for several hours. It's good to have him home, and to be home again!!!

Call me crazy, but I decided to enter Pretzel in the AKC sanctioned puppy match at the Steel City Cluster dog show in Canfield, Ohio. Time to jump in and make an attempt at this showing thing. I got a decent education from some new friends while hanging out at the Lima dog show, so it's time to get our feet/paws wet.

July 31, 2012

July brought the end of puppy kindergarten...graduation night! I had to go to Tuesday night's class since I am leaving tomorrow for the dog show! They had contests over all the things we learned. Pretzel was burning fast on the "come" command and smoked the competition! He also won the leading/heeling contest, the down contest, and got second in the agility course. He ended up being the overall puppy champion, and got a squeaky soft ball toy as a prize. It soon became his favorite item. He is a lot like me - he values the things he actually earned versus things that were just given :-]

In celebration of his "graduation", we went to the Pet Supplies Plus store and did a little shopping - bought some more training treats for the show and some excellent chewy rawhide things to keep him busy during the 3 1/2 hour trip. It was fun taking a dog into the store, but it also felt really really weird!

On to Page 2...